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Solution Requirements

Management wants to move to a more stable solution for this process. They have set rather ambitious objectives for the solution:

  • The budget is tight, so the application needs to be developed within a small budget. Expensive disk arrays and servers cannot be purchased. Similarly, there is a limited budget for application-development resources.
  • There is spare capacity on the existing SQL Server cluster, so any new database(s) can use this setup.
  • The solution needs to be implemented in a very short time period, preferably in 30 calendar days.
  • The application should be available on a 24/7 basis. Hence, the architecture should include failover support.
  • The solution should be easily scalable because the company is targeting exponential growth in future. But upfront investment should be limited only to the current capacity requirements to keep the cost low.
  • The solution should be able to support FTP (for the warehouse application), SMTP (for sending emails to customers), SOAP (for credit card processing), and SAP (for interfacing with the internal SAP accounting system) communication protocols.
  • The solution should be able to handle change in transport protocols with ease, with a view toward eliminating problems such as the one with the credit card vendor.
  • The company has standardized on the .NET platform for all development. So any new development should use .NET.
  • All messages that pass through the system should be trackable (especially any failed messages) so that corrective action can be taken.
  • There is a proposal to add some business rules in the future. (For example, one of the proposals is to manage the way "high-value" orders are processed: A dedicated marketing person might be assigned to these customers, and they would be notified when such an order is placed.) The proposed architecture should include a mechanism to make this possible.

Archie, who is the chief architect of PinkAndBlue, has been tasked with coming up with an appropriate solution. Archie realizes that with the 30-day implementation target and the tight budget, any custom development is impossible. He had some past experience with BizTalk Server 2000, but he was not happy with the product because it had a steep learning curve and the implementation itself was clumsy. Archie knows that Microsoft has recently released a newer version of BizTalk Server (BizTalk Server 2004). He has heard good reviews of the product, so he begins to research the product to see whether it can satisfy his requirements.

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